Emergency services across England have issued warnings to the public after people were seen walking on frozen lakes days after four children died in Solihull after falling through ice.
Brothers Finlay, 8, and Samuel Butler, 6, their cousins Thomas Stewart, 11, and Jack Johnson, 10, died after falling into water at Babbs Mill Park near Solihull. The children were in cardiac arrest when they were pulled from the water and died in hospital.
The West Midlands Fire Service, which responded to the incident, has urged dog walkers to stay away from icy lakes after launching two rescue operations on Thursday.
A woman in her early 60s fell into a lake in Himley Park, Staffordshire, while trying to rescue a dog, and was taken to hospital.
A firefighter who tried to swim to her suffered mild hypothermia but did not require hospital treatment, the force said. He was unable to reach the woman due to the thick ice, and a boat was eventually used to bring her and the firefighter to safety.
As firefighters prepared to leave the scene, they were alerted to a second dog in the water and used a boat to rescue it, fearing its owners were about to enter the lake.
A West Midlands Fire Service spokesperson said: “We cannot stress enough the dangers of winter ice.
“We understand that dog owners will do everything they can to save their pet if it gets into trouble. But please keep them on leads near frozen, open water – for their safety, for your safety and the safety of firefighters.”
A multi-agency response was launched in Warwickshire on Thursday following reports of young people walking on frozen water.
Deputy Chief Constable Alex Franklin-Smith said: “I cannot begin to imagine the pain the families and friends of those who recently lost their lives just across the border at Babbs Mill Lake must be going through following the tragic loss of four young lives.
“Despite this incident, yesterday in Warwickshire we had two reports of young people being seen walking on frozen water. Each was quickly responded to by multiple emergency services with extensive searches carried out and fortunately in each case there has been no evidence of that someone has been injured.
“But this could have been a very different situation if someone had gone into the water in any of these places.”
Suffolk firefighters also said “some people have reported children very close and testing the ice” at Oulton Broad lake and nearby ponds, and markings showed there had “obviously been people on the ice on the pond”.
Suffolk Fire and Rescue said they had engaged with members of the public in nearby parks to remind people of the dangers of frozen ice, and had put up warning posters in the area.
Staffordshire Police said a concerned member of the public reported seeing children by a pond in Leek on Tuesday and a witness reported seeing two boys on a frozen lake on Wednesday morning in Longport.
Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service also sent out a letter to local schools asking parents and carers to remind their children of the dangers of ice and urging them to stay away from it.
On Saturday, a vigil will be held in Kingshurt near the lake where the four boys fell through the ice.
A minute’s silence was observed at Birmingham City’s match on Friday night against Reading and is also planned for Saturday’s matches.